COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – On this Veterans Day we want you to meet a community treasure right here in Columbus. He’s a World War II Navy veteran and currently employed at the Muscogee County Elections Office.
On a normal day Guy “Mac” McGowan, Petty Officer, 2nd Class (Ret.) would be on the job at the Muscogee County Election and Voter Registration Office where he’s worked for over 15 years.
This Veterans Day, McGowan sat down with WRBL News 3’s Phil Scoggins to reflect on his service to our country.
McGowan graduated from high school in Dothan, Alabama, when he was 16. “There was only eleven in my graduation class and several of them had joined the military and I decided I wanted to go in,” said McGowan.
McGowan enlisted in the Navy on December 18th, 1942 at the age of 17. At the time, he was really worried about making the minimum weight. “I ate bananas all day and was hoping my weight was up to that and I just did make it to 116,” said McGowan.
McGowan spent three years in the Navy, all of it serving on the U.S.S. Reno, an anti-aircraft light cruiser. He was a signalman and rose to the rank of Petty Officer, 2nd Class.
As McGowan thumbed through the pages of a photo book honoring those who served
on the Reno, one particular picture caught his eye.
McGowan described the events of October 14th, 1944.”Picking up survivors from the Lexington after it had gotten hit and later sank, I’m sitting on the top of the motor, on the cowling over the motor.”
The 95-year-old McGowan has a lifetime of wonderful memories to reflect on this Veterans Day.
When asked what this special day means to him, McGowan didn’t hesitate, “I remember those that I lost, my friends. If I could do it all over again, I’d go back in.”
During his stint in the Navy, McGowan married his childhood sweetheart, Frances. “I got my first kiss on Friday, an engagement ring on Saturday, and I married on Sunday week, but I had known her since we were children,” said McGowan Their voyage together lasted 72 years, 8 months, and six days.
Nancy Boren, the director of Elections for Muscogee County, says she has known McGowan for 25 years. They met when he was a poll worker. Boren says he gets to work at 6:30 every morning, and he is, quote: “An inspiration to us all.”